Have you ever had a front-row seat to watch a friend’s dream come true? I did in mid-January of this year, and it was quite a moment.
My friend and professional speaking colleague, Kelly Swanson, has spent a lifetime as a storyteller. For years, she had a dream to create a one-woman show where she could share her best stories in a theater setting rather than on a conference stage. While there are similarities between the two settings, the theater provides the chance to be purely entertaining instead of providing content lessons and enough business takeaways to please a meeting planner.
Some time ago, she was approached by a theater agent and asked to put together a show that would be suitable for the entertainment arena. In short order, Kelly was able to quilt together some of her best work to create “Who Hijacked My Fairytale,” a funny and poignant story of what happens when your glass slipper turns out to be plastic!
On opening night, the theater was filled with people who had flown in from all over the country to support her. I sat front and center and expected to be entertained. However, since I had heard all of Kelly’s stories many times before, I assumed the impact would be minimal. I was wrong. From the moment she walked on stage, I was misty eyed because it isn’t often one gets to witness a dream come true.
I could tell she wasn’t nervous; just excited to finally get started. Years of planning, writing, improving, and performing had led to this night. And even though I knew how each story was going to flow, I was still swept up in the magic of her tale and the cadence of the words. Foolishly, I did not bring Kleenex because why would I need that? Turns out my sweater sleeve had to do the job, which is just gross.
Vacillating between taking mental notes to share with her later and being 100% engrossed in the stories, I found I was riding a roller coaster of mental shifting that was exhilarating. When the closing moment came, she stood in a spotlight on a completely dark stage, shared a profound statement, and blew glitter out of the palm of her hand to create an effect that was both beautiful and fleeting. Blink and you missed it. As soon as the glitter started to float down, the crew did a fast blackout of the spotlight and we found ourselves in complete darkness and silence for a brief moment before the thunderous applause began. My description of this moment doesn’t do it justice, nor will the video that follows later.
As they say, you had to be there.
I was reminded of several things on this adventure:
- No one knocks on your door and hands you the dream. Visualize it and go make it happen, no matter what the noise may be from those around you.
- No one gets to “center stage” without the support of those around them. Kelly had family hauling boxes and setting up. She had friends volunteer to sell merchandise. She had colleagues from every phase of her life from elementary school all the way to people she met in the airport the week before! Without people willing to sit in the seats, you don’t have a show to share.
- No one can copy you when you are bold enough to be unique. Self-explanatory.
I came away from this experience asking myself one question: What passion do I possess that has been ignored for too long? The answer came quickly. So, stay tuned for what is next in my world.
What’s your passion that you’re ready to act on?